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Arizona Cardinals cut 2016 1st-round pick Robert Nkemdiche

Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche #90 of the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyboys defeated the Cardinals 28-17. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals released defensive lineman and 2016 first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche on Saturday, the team announced.

Nkemdiche cleared waivers on Monday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Nkemdiche, 24, has been a disappointment for the Cardinals on the field after they selected him 26th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. Dealing with injuries and inconsistent play, Nkemdiche has 44 total tackles and 4.5 sacks to his name over three seasons, with 32 of those tackles and all of those sacks coming in 2018.

The fourth-year player taken 27th overall was arrested in early June for speeding and driving on a suspended license. Police found a white powdery substance in the center console of Nkemdiche’s car, where a credit card holder resided. The substance was not tested and was impounded with Nkemdiche’s approval.

“It’s just a performance-based business and we decided as an organization that was best for us,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We wish him well and hope he gets a fresh start somewhere else. And that’s really all it came down to.”

Nkemdiche entered training camp for this season on the PUP list. He suffered a torn ACL in December but as camp opened was out of shape, according to head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Due to injuries and inconsistency, Nkemdiche has appeared in 27 of a possible 48 games since he entered the NFL. His knee injury suffered in December put his health status heading into the 2019 regular season in question.

In his third season with the Cardinals, Nkemdiche played his best game on Nov. 25, 2018, against the Los Angeles Chargers. He finished the 45-10 loss with seven tackles, four for loss, and 2.5 sacks, adding three quarterback hits.

Seen as a top-10 talent coming out of the draft, Nkemdiche concerned NFL teams when he was arrested on drug charges in December of 2015 after falling out of a hotel window and was suspended from Ole Miss’ Sugar Bowl appearance.

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